HR Is NOT a 47 Year Old White Woman!

This was originally published in October of 2012. I think it’s still relevant. And I’m on vacation.

Last year the folks at HRxAnalysts published a fascinating psychometric report about HR.  Who works in HR; what’s the education level of HR professionals; do they get certifications; do they go to industry trade shows; what industry publications do they read; do they like to be wined and dined. It is a fascinating read. The title of the report is What HR Thinks and Feels: The 2011 HRxAnalysts Psychographic Survey of HR Professionals; The Demographics, Behaviors, Attitudes and Beliefs of HR Professionals

Without being overly simplistic, the bottoms line is that the average HR professional is a 47 year old white woman with a college degree, two kids, pretty middle-of-the-road politically who isn’t into team sports and likes music.

It’s good and useful information – especially if you want to sell stuff to HR.

However, based on a new survey published in Human Resource Executive, the title really should have been HR is a 47 Year Old White Woman – Unless They’re the CHRO of a Major Employer.

In the September 16, 2012 edition of the magazine, on line here, the editors published the yearly list of HR’s Elite:  the 50 highest paid HR executives “culled from a universe of about 227 former and current HR executives at Russell 3000 companies who were among the five most highly compensated officers in their companies and were, therefore, included in those organizations’ filings.”

Ten of the 50 top compensated CHROs were women.  Ten.  That’s 20%.  And that’s down from 43% in 2011.  Now I’m not assuming that only 20% of all large employers have female CHROs – HRE says its 43% of the nation’s 100 largest employers – but that’s not as high as the 67% as the HRxAnalyst research highlights. Not even close.  And I’m pretty sure that the reason more female CHROs don’t show up in the top 50 highest paid HR executives is the still prevalent truth that in general men still make more than women.

The concern to me is that if it is true, as HRxAnalysts published, that 67% of all HR professionals are women, then why aren’t more of them moving into the top job? The hard question is that if 55% of HR Managers are female, and 64% of HR Directors are female, and 69% of HR Vice Presidents are female, then why, practically speaking, are we not seeing those percentages hold true in the top HR jobs?

I get it:  HR is a 47 year old white woman.  Unless we’re talking the CHRO job.  Then, HR is a guy.  Interesting, huh?



Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Demographics, HR, HR Executive Magazine, HRxAnalysts

9 responses to “HR Is NOT a 47 Year Old White Woman!

  1. By attending with a colleague this year, we were able to attend double the sessions and bring back even more valuable information. HR Tech is the most valuable conference I attend so I make it a point to be there each year.

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  4. Larry Carter

    If statistics are correct, it also might make one think they continue to hire and promote to HR based on sex, behavior, beliefs and attitudes.

  5. I’d have to read the original HRX report again but I thought the research showed that the average was a 47 yr old white woman — and then made a point that averages are deceiving and highlighted the flip at the top of the HR organizational structure? That may have been something that was talked about at the webinar, too. But the implications of the data were pretty clear to me — you don’t look at averages of an industry to figure out who’s running it.

    After all, the average politician on the national stage is a wealthy white guy… and yet we have an African American community organizer as our president.

  6. Effron makes a great point. The trick to understanding any statistic is a close look at what is actually being measured. To make it onto the list, the CHRO has to be one of the top five most highly compensated officers of a company. Hmm, CEO, CFO, Sales, Engineering, Products, Operations, Marketing.

    That means that the CHRO of great big whopping company X who makes 5 kajillion dollars but is the sixth most highly compensated individual in that company wouldn’t make the HRExecutive list even if she were the most highly compensated HR person in the universe.

    All of a sudden, I want to know what percentage of companies have an HR officer who is one of the five best paid people in the company.

  7. Hi China

    This is a great post on an extremely interesting – and concerning – topic.

    The overall picture of the gender profile of HR in the UK is largely similar, but with some crucial differences.

    Earlier this year, we analysed the gender profile of the UK HR profession, based on responses to XpertHR’s HR Salary Survey.

    Key findings included the following:

    – By seniority level, more than three-quarters of UK senior HR professionals are female (76.6%).

    – By specific HR job level, women are most heavily concentrated at HR assistant/administrator level. Women are least likely to have attained Head of HR roles.

    -However, responses from HR Directors run counter to the trend toward the concentration of women at the lower levels of the profession. Seven-tenths of HR Directors taking part in this survey are female.

    You can read more about it here: What is the gender profile of the UK HR profession in 2012?

  8. Their methodology is fundamentally flawed since it only includes those who show up on the top 5 in the proxy. Not worth extrapolating their findings into any other conclusions.

  9. I am sure this is something “ist.” Like SHRMist?

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